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  • Writer's pictureLee Weaver


Updated: Jan 2

COWBOYS AND CULTURE – Hats off to the City of Fort Worth for that very apt phrase; we love Fort Worth! We love the western culture – that’s what I grew up with and fostered in my life. But in the best sense of the word ‘cowboy’ as a job title I can’t honestly claim – I never had to make my living at it! In West Texas vernacular a ‘real’ cowboy looks, talks and is one 100%

I grew up in San Angelo, Texas, ranching country. Again, borrowing a familiar FW phrase, ‘Fort Worth is where the west begins.’ I fully support that claim but enlarge upon the idea: West Texas is God’s country and His throne is in San Angelo! (Okay spiritual friends – I admit to a bit of irreverence!) In West Texas the sky is higher and bluer, and it rains occasionally! West Texas is not just a locale – it is a State of Mind!

My Dad always had a ‘town job’ after he and my mother married, but in his single years he had worked on ranches in the Angelo area (he was a real cowboy). In my generation there were eight of us siblings and cousins. I was number five; the first four were five and six years older than I and the next three after me were significantly younger. The older ones did not want me in their shenanigans so I avoided the younger ones and spent lots of time hanging around the adults when all the extended family gathered. This suited me just fine because I was enthralled with the stories my dad and uncles related, especially when they talked about the ranch work! (One of my uncles, after a tour of hard ranch work swore off physical labor for the rest of his life!) Naturally the talk included horses; couple this with Saturday matinee westerns and I was hooked on horses for life. When I was seven to nine years old we lived on some acreage outside San Angelo, and we acquired an old gray mare for my sister and me to ride. The mare appeared to be so old as to have been with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, so she just naturally was named ‘Cuba!’ When I was nine, we moved back into town, so no more horses. Then in my mid-teens my parents acquired a larger acreage, so back to the country. This time my Dad got a really nice mare whose previous owner used her roping calves. She was a really pretty bay; Dad and I called her Red Bird but Mom insisted on a more glorifying name – ‘Bay Beauty.’ Thus began my serious riding and horsemanship.

Those stories and events during my boyhood set the stage for many an adventure in adulthood. Many of my job locations were not conducive to such activities but we made it work when possible. After our move to Fort Worth all things seemed possible.

These possibilities actually started at our second job location in Iraan, Texas. We lived in an area where could fence in a space to keep a pony for Selah and Wendy (toddlers at the time but let’s start them early!). Following Iraan we had tours of duty in San Antonio, Midland and Dallas – no horses until we were living in Dallas and got a real horse for the girls, then in their teens. We shared ownership of this horse with friends from church – Stan and Nancy Ingraham, parents of Laurie. Candy was kept at a boarding stable. The problem became that Candy was not being ridden enough that she got ‘barn-sour;’ she was not willing to leave her comfortable stall! We eventually proposed to sell unreliable Candy but the Ingrahams bought our share.

Fast-forward then to 1988, living in Fort Worth. We became aware of some acreage for sale, about seven miles out of Benbrook (a Fort Worth suburb). There were no improvements on the land – no house, no barn, just fences. So, what was the first thing to do but to build a barn and get a horse – the first of many! Next were dwellings for Wendy and her family and for Wanda and me. As Wendy’s kids reached adolescence Daniel, Emily and William became interested and between us at one time we had as many as five horses.

Also in 1988 my really good friend Ralph Capshaw and I went on a week-long horseback pack trip in the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Westcliff, Colorado. Back home most of our riding was in the back pasture or on nearby trails. I and some friends went several times on some ranch rides sponsored by a Reenactment group out of Fort Griffin, Texas. These were three-day campout events on some major ranches in that area. For “cowboying” in the mid-90s I ran 20 or so cows on some land I leased near Granbury.

In 1997 I had the opportunity to go on a real round up in South Texas. Bertie Dancer (Wanda’s sister) had a relative who ranched down below Houston, near Bay City. A group of ranchers would winter their cattle on an island in the Intracoastal Canal. In the Spring they would drive the cattle into the water or canal/bay waters and swim them across to the mainland. The cattle were ‘encouraged’ into the water by having them follow a few horses. After getting the cattle across, we drove them inland, up the highway and through the streets of the small town of Matagorda, to a gathering pasture to separate the various brands.

In 1998 I was seeking more organized riding activities and was accepted in the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Posse. I was approved in time to ride for the first time in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in January 1999. We rode a lot of parades; one thing I enjoyed most was the pageantry of the Grand Entry at the rodeos. And at age 11 Emily was elected posse sweetheart and rode with us in parades and other events. (She had her own horse – a big Palomino. Emily was quite a horse trader. She traded up four times over a few years, and made money every time!)

I had another neat ‘horsey’ experience in 2000. In April or 1st of May, Daniel (age 11) and I accompanied two adult friends, Ed Goodman and Ron Toles, on a trip to New Mexico. Ed had a rancher friend near Alamogordo who needed some help for the Spring round-up. We loaded up our horses and gear and drove out there. Daniel was the only minor on the round-up, and he earned much praise from the others, for the way he entered right into the work. Daniel was pretty much a natural horseman; rode very well and knew how to handle his horse. We rounded up about 200 head of cattle and drove them up higher in the mountains to summer pasture; from about 4300’ elevation at Alamogordo to 8500’+ south of Cloudcroft. We then separated out the calves and branded them.

Though I may not be a real cowboy – I never earned a cent at it: the experiences I’ve enjoyed were worth every cent and more than they cost!!

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